BLM proposes more campsites at Rabbit Valley

Public lands near the state line between Moab and Grand Junction are being heavy hit by an increasing number of campers, so the Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments on a newly completed environmental review for Rabbit Valley.

The agency is proposing to expand the number of campsites from 19 (which it has now) to 72, while banning dispersed camping. The area is just off of Interstate 70. The BLM has released a preliminary environmental assessment analyzing the plan, and is discussing the possibility of charging a camping fee there.

An increase in fees would be part of a different environmental assessment than the one involving expanded campsites. The BLM estimates that the project could cost $1.23 million, with the development timeframe depending on funding availability.

The BLM’s current proposal seeks to accommodate a mix of tents, trailers and vehicles, according to a story in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “BLM monitoring indicates an increase in large recreational vehicles (RVs) and trailers,” its environmental assessment says. “The access roads and existing campgrounds are not designed for these large vehicles, which constitute approximately 50 percent of the overall camping use.”

More than 34,000 people visited Rabbit Valley during the 2018 federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, with 30 to 50 percent of them camping, the BLM estimates.

While the developed campgrounds are being built or expanded, camping would be allowed in designated undeveloped sites and areas. Those campers would have to obtain a permit committing them to use portable toilet systems and fire pans, carry out their fire ashes and trash, not disturb the campsite surface or collect firewood, and otherwise minimize their impacts.

The BLM is asking for comments on its environmental assessment by May 17. It can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xUaYu. Comments may be mailed to the BLM Grand Junction Field Office, 2815 H Rd, Grand Junction, CO 81506 or filed via the project website.